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How To Start Kettlebell Training At Home In Five Steps

An exerciser learning how to start kettlebell training at home.

So, you read about the awesome benefits of kettlebell training and immediately rushed out to buy one for your home gym. Congratulations! And let me be the first to welcome you to the club of kettlebell enthusiasts. Soon you’ll have one in every room.


But you’re in a bit of a pickle though. You’ve got a shiny new kettlebell, yet you’re not sure what to do with it.


Don’t worry! I know exactly how you feel. When I got my first kettlebell, it served as a doorstop for six months. That was until I finally learnt a few exercises and started organising them into workouts.


That was over 20 years ago. Since then, I’ve developed a wealth of workouts and training resources that enable me to get the most out of my kettlebell.


In this article, I’ve distilled that knowledge and experience into a simple action plan comprised of four steps. Follow the steps, action the advice, and start using your kettlebell with confidence. Ready?


How to start kettlebell training at home Step #1: Buy a kettlebell

I assumed in the introduction that you already have a kettlebell. Of course, for some readers, this may not be the case. (If it is for you, skip to Step #2 of the Action Plan.) Just because you want to know how to start kettlebell training at home doesn’t automatically mean that you own one.


The conscientious types in the crowd might be conducting a spot of research before they commit. Kudos to you! But, if you’re still undecided about whether to take the plunge, this blog on the Benefits of Kettlebell Training should have you convinced.


Related: Best Competition Kettlebell for home training

While we’re on the subject, before splashing the cash, I recommend giving this Kettlebell Buyer’s Guide a quick flick through. It teaches you how to tell the difference between a competition kettlebell and a mass-market knockoff. Not all kettlebells were created equal.


As well as providing a better training experience, selecting the correct type of kettlebell will also save you money. In addition, you’ll learn how to select the right weight kettlebell for your ability and training needs.


Step #1: key points

  • First things first, if you haven’t yet bought a kettlebell, you’ll need to take the plunge before you can start training at home.

  • But don’t rush out and buy any old kettlebell though! The market’s littered with plastic tack and rickety tin cans.

  • Read this Buyer’s Guide and know how to spot a fake from the real thing.

  • Once you’ve got your new kettlebell, come back and complete the action plan.


How to start kettlebell training at home Step #2: Learn two simple exercises

The mistake many people make when they start kettlebell training is to jump straight in at the deep end. Full of enthusiasm and thinking their Ivan Denisov (arguably the greatest girevik of all time), they attempt a complex exercise – such as the snatch or Turkish get-up. Typically, this doesn’t end well.


I know this story all too well because I was one of those people. Yep, I confess, the first exercise I tried was a snatch. Suffice it to say, my initial experience with kettlebells is one I’ve tried to forget.


The thing that escaped my notice is the unorthodox way kettlebells move. In contrast to conventional exercise kit – machines, dumbbells, and barbells – kettlebells require considerable skill and mastery to handle. It’s for this reason that I recommend starting with a small range of simple exercises.


For example, the complete novice should confine themselves to exercises they’re already familiar with – squats, deadlifts, and the like. These can be supplemented with one or two simple kettlebell movements – such as the swing and goblet squat.


Once you become accustomed to the way kettlebells destabilise your position and posture, you should only then begin the gradual process of expanding your repertoire of exercises.


Step #2: key points

  • Don’t make my mistake! Start off by learning a couple of simple exercises.

  • Better still, stick with ones you’re already familiar with – at least until you get accustomed to the unconventional way the kettlebell moves.

  • When your handling skills improve and your confidence grows, advance your repertoire one exercise at a time.


How to start kettlebell training at home Step #3: Have one or two workouts at the ready

Constantly coming up with new workouts can be quite challenging. That’s true of forms of exercise that you have experience in. Creating sessions for a completely new training method is downright difficult.


To avoid getting bogged down with designing a different workout each time you train, have a couple of plans at the ready. And the simpler the plans the better. That way you can whip out your bell and, after a quick warm-up, get going with minimal faff.


And don’t think that ‘simple’ workouts with a single kettlebell are boring or ineffective. My best kettlebell sessions are all super-simple. In fact, currently, my favourite workout involves just one exercise – the long cycle – and the CrossFit EMOM training method. Let me explain how it works so that you can start applying it to your kettlebell sessions.


Different workouts to do with your kettlebell

Short for ‘every minute on the minute’, the objective of an EMOM is to complete a prespecified number of reps at the start of each minute or ‘round.’ The remaining time in the round is taken as rest. For example, if it took you 35 seconds to complete 10 kettlebell swings, you would rest for 25 seconds before initiating the next round. Repeat until you’ve had your fill.


Other simple training methods that you can apply to your kettlebell include:

  • AMRAP (as many reps as possible): select an exercise (or two), set a countdown timer (2, 3, 5 or more minutes), and graft with all you’ve got for the time stipulated.

  • Repetition ladder: select an anterior/posterior exercise pairing (goblet squats/swings), decide on the length of your ladder (each rung is a set of reps: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10), then work your way up the ladder. Example: 1 rep goblet squat followed by 1 rep swing followed by 2 reps goblet squat then 2 reps swing, and so on.

  • Reps for time (Rt): essentially an inverted AMRAP, the rep number for each exercise is first stipulated then, after setting a timer, the objective is clear the slate in the shortest time possible.


Step #3: key points

  • You don’t have to create complex workouts to get the most out of your kettlebell training. As this full-body single kettlebell session shows, you can bag big gains with one bell.

  • In fact, the converse is often true: simple sessions like those listed above can be both highly engaging and beneficial.

  • When you’ve crafted a couple of fuss-free workouts, use them to develop your kettlebell handling skills and training competency.

  • At this point, you’ll be ready to take on more exotic exercise plans.



How to start kettlebell training at home Step #4: Keep the workouts short, to begin with

A common myth is that the duration of a kettlebell workout must be 30 minutes or longer. This is simply not the case. And if you know how to use your kettlebell properly, you’ll be able to get more done in 10 minutes than most can in three times that.


For example, after a five-mile run or 10,000-metre row, you could tackle a five to ten-minute kettlebell clean and jerk AMRAP. By doing so, you would engage a significant slice of your skeletal muscles and tap into those stubborn fat reserves.


If you followed this method, bolting a kettlebell AMRAP onto the end of all your weekly training sessions, you would soon be bagging some of those benefits you read about.


In addition, if you substituted some of your tamer gym sessions for one of the workouts from our fitness page, you’d no doubt see the scales of your body composition tip in favour of fat-free mass – aka muscle!


In saying that, though, good training practice necessitates a balance between high-intensity and controlled workouts. Adhering to safe training principles, and mixing up exercise methods and intensities, reduces our risk of incurring an overuse injury.


Step #4: key points

  • New exercisers aim for two sessions a week to begin with.

  • Intermediate and advanced exercisers aim for between two and five weekly workouts.

  • Vary the intensity and duration of your kettlebell workouts.

  • Ensure to factor into your training schedule sessions dedicated to technique development.

  • Experiment with different exercise methods – such as AMRAPs, EMOMs, HIIT, and MQT (movement-quality training – focusing on technique).



How to start kettlebell training at home Step #5: Program your kettlebell training

All that we’ve discussed so far is worthless if you fail to take this final step. That is, programming your kettlebell sessions.


I’m not suggesting that you design a comprehensive kettlebell training program. That’s a comparatively complex process that is beyond the scope of our present discussion.


What Step #5 asks you to do is simply implement a minimum of two kettlebell training days. They needn’t be anything fancy. A short ten-minute EMOM every Tuesday and Thursday morning will do just fine. The crucial thing is that you decide which days you can commit to and then set them in stone.


The importance of this step cannot be overstated. Fixing designated workout days into your week is an effective habit-formation strategy. And the strategy works even better if you plot your workouts in a calendar or training tracker. Making your goals visible, Charles Duhigg reminds us, is a powerful method for maintaining healthy lifestyle habits.


Essential reading: The Power of Habit

To help get you started, I’ve created a training tracker that you can print off, plot your workouts on, and pin somewhere prominent.


Step #5: key points

  • Fitness and exercise theory is all but useless unless it is put into practice.

  • Steps one to four provide you with ideas of how to start kettlebell training at home. You’ve got exercises. You’ve got workouts and a few methodologies. However, unless you take the fifth and final step, your kettlebell will just collect dust.

  • Step #5, then, is arguably the most important as it challenges you to habituate a minimum of two weekly kettlebell training days.

  • Once you plot those days in your calendar or program tracker, you must workout with your kettlebell. Come hell or high water, complete that AMRAP, EMOM or climb that repetition ladder.

 

Conclusion and key takeaways

Well done! You’ve reached the end of the action plan and now you know how to start kettlebell training at home. Because we’ve covered quite a lot of ground together, I thought it would be a good idea to recap the essence of each step.


Step 1: The first step on your journey of how to start kettlebell training at home is to buy a bell. Though an initial purchase of a competition kettlebell can seem quite costly, it’s well worth it. As well as lasting a lifetime, a quality kettlebell is an investment. One that, if used regularly, will pay you back in improved health and fitness.


Step 2: In the second step we looked at the best way to get going with your kettlebell. After considering the mistakes I made, we recognised that the smart thing to do is to master a couple of simple exercises. These exercises – squats, deadlifts, and the swing – will enable you to get used to the unorthodox way kettlebells move.


Step 3: Once you can competently perform a couple of exercises (and built up your confidence), you’ll want to put them into a workout. Step three outlines a range of training methods that you can apply to your kettlebell sessions. The takeaway from step three is keep the workouts simple to, start with.


Step 4: The fourth step exposes the myth that to be effective kettlebell workouts must be long. The truth is short high-intense or high-volume workouts can deliver more gains in fewer training minutes. For example, in a five or ten-minute AMRAP, you could target all the major muscle groups and stimulate the cardiovascular system.


Step 5: This is the all-important step. For some, it’s more like a leap. I get that. It takes courage to try a new training method – especially one as unconventional as kettlebells. But if you apply the advice in steps one through to four and begin your kettlebell training journey with a few simple exercises and short workouts, I bet it won’t be long until you’re throwing your bell around like a seasoned girevik. So, what are you waiting for? Get going!



 

Need training and workout ideas?

Hot to start kettlebell training at home blog concludes with the HUngry4Fitness book of circuits and workouts.

 

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